15 Most-Coveted Cars on Every Collector’s Wish List

For their era-defying innovation, unparalleled performance, and rare relics of automotive history, collectors find the lure of classic cars irresistible. They enjoy the thrill in the chase, spend nights daydreaming about the pride of ownership, and would, at the rumor of vintage sightings, doll out millions of dollars to take possession of pieces of history on wheels.

Here are the most coveted four-wheelers every collector would love to have in their garage.

1. 1958 Ford Thunderbird

Image Credit: John LLoyd – CC BY 2.0/Wiki Commons.

The 1958 Ford Thunderbird deserves the rave it gets among car enthusiasts and collectors alike. Nicknamed T-Bird, the Thunderbird was a novel response to General Motors' launch of the Chevy Corvette back in the 1950s. It did shatter the glass ceiling of the time, and it is widely acclaimed for its cultural significance in the discourse around the history of American cars.

While many credited the marketing geniuses behind T-Bird's launch for its era-defining success, the car itself was a showpiece of agility, beauty, and speed. The first Thunderbird version had a three-speed manual gearbox complemented by a V8 engine with 3 and 395 lbs. of torque. Subsequent generations of the Thunderbird, riding on the fame and acceptability of the 1958 model, blew the “sports car” hype Chevrolet had amassed, making it an instant hotcake to collectors even today.

2. 1948 Chrysler Town & Country

1948 Chrysler Town & Country sedan
Image Credit: Mr. Choppers, Own Work – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

The Chrysler Town & Country features woody trim that runs from the side of the car to its rear, a desirable selling point for automobiles at that time. Originally, Town & Country car models appeared as station wagons until Chrysler began experimenting with sedans and convertibles, birthing the 1948 classic, which you could buy in both six- and eight-cylinder engine versions.

The Classic Car Club of America categorizes the 1948 version of Chrysler Town and Country in its genuine classic cars group alongside V16 Cadillacs and Duesenberg (worth over $1.5m on average).

3. Chevrolet Impala SS

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

A highly coveted four-wheeler for several car buffs during the Golden Age of Muscle Cars, the Chevrolet Impala SS had a deceptive facade since nothing about its appearance speaks about the speed and power earthed within its 300-horsepower V6 engine.

At a starting price of $30,000, this true American classic is a good bargain. It can go from 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. Collectors love the Impala SS for its customizable options, which many believe was right ahead of its time.

4. 1955 Chevrolet Corvette

Image Credit: Mustang Joe – CC0/Wiki Commons.

General Motors released America's first statement in the world of sports cars in the 1955 Chevrolet Corvette, which houses the era-defining 4.3-liter  V-8 engine. Also known as the C1, the Corvette is a vintage gas guzzler on many collectors' lists. It is coveted for its sturdy design, which features a manual-adjustable fabric top or a power-assisted convertible top for customized options.

The rarity of the 1955 Chevrolet Corvette also adds to its allure and desirability. Only 700 of these era-defining automobiles were ever produced.

5. Jaguar XKR

Image Credit: OSX, Own Work/Wiki Commons.

The Jaguar XKR appeals more to the younger demographic of vintage car enthusiasts than it does to the older ones. Great on performance metrics and a speedster in its own right, the XKR can hit a top speed of 155 mph and can go 0 to 62 mph in 4.9 seconds through its 4.0-liter V8 engine.

The Jaguar XKR is still sought-after for its deft combination of luxury and performance features, including trim interiors with wood and leather veneers. The XKR models are widely regarded as collectibles, making the list of the most wanted cars for many collectors.

6. Plymouth Prowler

1999 Plymouth Prowler Purple Metallic
Image Credit: Greg Gjerdingen – CC BY 2.0/Wiki Commons.

The Plymouth Prowler is notable in the history of resto-mods and failed experiments. Despite its commercial failure, car enthusiasts consider it a modern classic for its rarity. One look at this bug-like automobile, and you'll marvel at the engineering, thirsting to take charge of its wheels. But most admirers soon realize the Prowler is a vehicle to be photographed and not driven.

The Plymouth Prowler's designer intended it as a collector's item from the start, and the car was a massive success.

7. Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler

Image Credit: Christopher Ziemnowicz, Own Work/Wiki Commons

Judging by its look, the Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler's starting cost of $40,000 is quite ridiculous, but the old lady still has some fight in her, proving the valuation is well worth it. Like other CJ models, the Scrambler has a removable top, an iconic Jeep grille with signature rounded headlights, and an off-road ruggedness that's surprising for a retro car.

The Cj-8 Scrambler isn't all that rare (about 28,000 were made between 1981 to 1986), which is a relatively low production number. Still, many Jeep lovers and 4×4 collectors would splurge a fortune on the Scrambler without a second thought.

8. 1963 Cadillac 62 Series

1963 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible
Image Credit: Greg Gjerdingen – CC BY 2.0/Wiki Commons.

A collectors' coveted list isn't complete without mention of the Cadillac 62 series. Notable for its flamboyant tailfins and elongated bodyline, the Series 62 represented status, beauty, and comfort and was the choice car during America's post-war prosperity.

Fielding a 6.4-liter V8 engine that produced 325 horsepower, the Cadillac 62 series proved itself to be the perfect blend of class and efficiency in the 1960s. It could go from 0 to 60 mph in 10 seconds. All models of the Cadillac 62 series came with straight body rub moldings and crest medallions, cementing its place as one of collectors' most desired four-wheelers.

9. 1981 DeLorean DMC-12

Image Credit: Lee Haywood – CC BY-SA 2.0/Wiki Commons.

The production team behind the DMC-12 hyped it up as the car of the future, but it turned out to be all bark and no bite, with the company filing for bankruptcy shortly after it ended production in 1983. How, then, did the DMC-12 become a collectible? Its other impressive features, like its gullwing doors (giving the DMC the shape of a bird flapping its wings), were, according to car enthusiasts, novel and hard to resist.

Collectors also desire the DeLorean DMC -12  for its cultural significance and enduring popularity.

10. Austin-Healey 3000

Image Credit: Br51zey, Own Work – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Unlike the Jaguar XKR, the Austin-Healey 3000 is the holy grail of British sports convertibles. Beneath its sleek design lies a powerhouse of engineering finesse, boasting a legendary inline-six engine that provides ample torque and revs with a distinctive sound that sticks to memory.

While the “Big Healey,” as it is popularly known, proved its worth with successes on the racetrack, its increasing desirability to collectors has much to do with its revered place in British automobile history.

11. Talbot Lago T150

Image Credit: Mr. Choppers, Own Work – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

The perfect example of Art Deco design, the Talbot Lago T150 is arguably one of the most beautiful cars in automobile history. Owned by some of the world's most famous collectors like Freddie McEvoy and Tommy Lee, the T150 continues to inspire desire for new car designs eight decades after it hit the production line.

A rare 1997 model of the 1935 Talbot Lago T150 was sold for $13m at a Gooding and Company Auction in 2022, a testament to the T150's continued desirability among collectors.

12. Aston Martin DB5

Image Credit: DeFacto, Own Work – CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

The Aston Martin DB5 has a stunning design, but that's not the only reason it's one of the most famous cars in the world. Largely associated with the James Bond franchise, Aston Martin amassed cultural significance first through the 1964 Goldfinger movie and, more recently, in Skyfall.

Considered an all-time favorite by the gear-making tycoon Sir David Brown, many collectors want the DB5 for its distinct look, which cannot be mistaken for a thousand fleets of other classic cars.

13. Mercedes SL 300 Gullwing

Mercedes SL 300 Gullwing
Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz.

Beyond its performance and technological advancement, the Mercedes SL 300 Gullwing features top-hinged, swinging doors, which were a notable design highlight at its launch in 1953. A totem of post-war sophistication, the SL 300 Gullwing debuted as the world's fastest production car.

According to Yahoo, the 1955 Gullwing was arguably the most collectible Mercedes on the market in 2024. It sold for a record $6.8m in 2022, further establishing its place as one of the most desired vintage cars currently.

14. 1938 Volkswagen Beetle

Image Credit: Hagerty International Limited.

Unarguably the most popular relic of automotive history, the 1938 Volkswagen Beetle, through modern metrics, wouldn't make the top rankings of the most beautiful cars. Still, it's up there on the list of best-performing vehicles of all time. Officially known as the type one, the Beetle, unlike most vehicles on the list, is a prewar gem and has some mind-blowing military affiliations within the German army complex.

The Volkswagen Beetle's production period lasted well over six decades, and over 21 million Beetles were produced in that time, all on a single platform.

15. Ferrari 250 GTO 1962

Image Credit: Ferrari N.V.

Widely considered the pinnacle of the 250GT series, the Ferrari 250 GTO 1962 is a collector's dream car, and rightly so for many reasons, including its era-defining top speed of 170 mph. The 250 GTO can go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, stamping its claim as the prime roadster of the 1960s.

Only 36 models of the Ferrari 250 GTO 1962 were ever produced, and veteran drivers consider the 250 GTO a lover of the road due to its engine power and drivability. The fame of the Ferrari 250 GTO 1962 continues to soar among collectors, and many have dubbed it the #1 living legend of motorsport.

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Author: Samuel Alimi

Samuel Alimi is a syndicated freelance writer with an extensive tech background.  His work has appeared on Play Louder, Spark Nomad, The Frugal Expat, MSN (US) Lavender and Macron, Wealth of Geeks, Savoteur, and more.

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